The secret of Air Supply’s success

With a catalog rich with Billboard hits, including The One That You Love, All Out of Love, Even the Nights Are Better, and Every Woman in the World, Air Supply is rightly considered the king of romantic anthems.

Since the two joined forces in 1975, the soaring tenor voice of Russell Hitchcock and the beautifully crafted, catchy tunes by Graham Russell have kept Air Supply in the hearts of fans for more than four decades.

Keith Loria spoke with Hitchcock about Air Supply’s upcoming performance at the Ridgefield Playhouse on May 11.

Loria: It’s always a treat when you guys come to this area. What can those coming out to the Ridgefield Playhouse on May 11 expect from this show?

Hitchcock: We’ll be doing all the hit songs and a couple of new things. It’s a great band behind us and they sound amazing. We always look forward to doing our thing. For people who haven’t seen us before, I think they may be surprised that this is a big rock ’n’ roll show. It will be loud — we don’t just like to stand on stage and go through the motions. We interact with the audience a great deal.

Loria: I heard that you still get a little jittery before each show, even after doing this for so long. True?

Hitchcock: Yes, true. I’m always scared when I get on stage. It really is annoying for me. In the morning, I wake up with butterflies in my stomach and I have a ritual I do to try and calm myself down. After about two songs, when I know my voice is in good shape and the band is sounding good and I can gauge what the audience is doing, I can get more relaxed.

Loria: You and Graham have been doing this for a long time. How do you keep things smooth as musical partners?

Hitchcock: We don’t compete with one another. He writes the songs in his true musical wisdom and I get to sing great songs every night. We don’t step on each other’s toes, we respect each other as human beings, and he’s like a brother to me. We have a lot of fun together on the road and it’s always a pleasure to get back in the saddle.

Loria: What has been the secret to Air Supply’s longevity?

Hitchcock: I’m going to be 69 this year, and I think the fact that we weren’t kids when we first began helped. We were very level-headed. Never in a million years did we think we would still be here today. I thought we would be good for four to five years max.

Loria: At this age, do you need to do anything special to keep your voice in shape and deal with the grind of a heavy tour schedule?

Hitchcock: I still have a pretty good set of hair on my head and I try to look after myself as much as I can. I drink a lot of water and get a lot of sleep, and I try to fly more, rather than taking a long bus trip to the next place.

Loria: What is about performing that keeps you coming back?

Hitchcock: There’s nothing better for me than being on the side of the stage when the house lights go out and I hear people stunned before a note is even played, and when you play the first strings of a song people know, the response is fantastically uplifting and exciting. I’ve been doing this for more than half my life now, and if I’m home for even two weeks, I start to get itchy and want to do it again. I don’t think I’m an egoist, but I love my job and love working with Graham. Seeing the world is a wonderful luxury as well.

Loria: You and Graham met doing Jesus Christ Superstar, and I know theater is a big part of both of your backgrounds. Have you ever considered doing a musical together either with new songs or using the Air Supply catalog?

Hitchcock: Actually, Graham has a few things in the works right now involving Air Supply tunes, though I am not really involved much. He’s been trying to do something for 10-15 years, and I think something will pop. It’s certainty a testament to your songwriting ability and the longevity and substance of Air Supply music.

Darien Times editor Susan Shultz spoke with Graham Russell. Visit arts.hersamacorn.com to read her interview.

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